LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Louisville’s six-run seventh inning saw five unearned runs break open a 2-2 game and lift the Cardinals to an 11-2 win over the Kentucky Wildcats, splitting the two-game series, on a pleasant Tuesday evening at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
The Wildcats entered the top of the seventh inning deadlocked in a 2-2 game, before two UK fielding errors, four UL hits, a walk and a hit batter broke open the contest. The Wildcats actually entered the top of the sixth inning holding a 2-1 lead, before UL plated 10 unanswered runs, including homers from sluggers Chris Dominguez and Andrew Clark.
The win evens the two-game series in 2009, as UK posted an 8-7 comeback win in Louisville on April 14. UK has won 12 of the last 17 meetings in the series and still leads the overall series between the two schools, 63-32-1, including a 30-12 mark in Lexington. The UL win was the first game in the series in the last four meetings that was not decided by a one run, or decided in the final innings of the contest.
Errors doomed Kentucky (22-22) in the game, as the Wildcats committed three, its most since April 21 vs. Lipscomb. Of Louisville’s first eight runs in the game, only two were earned.
Kentucky starting pitcher Clint Tilford had the best start of the season, going a season-high 5.1 innings, striking out five without issuing a walk. Tilford, a West Paducah, Ky., native, got his sixth start of the season, allowing seven hits and two runs (one earned).
Offensively for the Wildcats, freshman Andy Burns and sophomore Chris Bisson picked up the only Kentucky RBI of the night. Burns finished the night 2-for-3 with two singles, his tenth multi-hit game of the season, extending his batting average to a career-high .293. Senior Chris McClendon was 2-for-3 in the game with two singles. McClendon, a native of Lufkin, Texas, is now on a four-game hitting streak and has seven multi-hit games on the season.
The Cardinals got huge offensive nights from Clark and third baseman Dominguez, as each had homers in the game. Clark’s homer tied the game in the fifth inning when he sent a laser shot just over the right field wall. Dominguez’s bomb was a three-run shot that was easily cleared the left-field wall. It was the 13th homer of the season for the junior who finished the game 2-for-4 with two strikeouts and a hit by a pitch. In the preseason, Dominguez was tabbed as a first-team All-American and by some as the preseason National Player of the Year.
The Wildcats will return to action Friday when they start a three-game series with Southeastern Conference foe Tennessee at Cliff Hagan Stadium. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET. The game can be heard on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio) with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Lexington can catch the game on 630-AM WLAP or in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM. Saturday’s game against the Volunteers will be broadcast by Fox Sports as the SEC game of the week, with first pitch at 4 p.m. ET. Sunday’s finale is slated for a 1 p.m. ET first pitch.
Kentucky scored first, posting a run in the bottom of the first inning. After a Chad Wright strikeout, his first since the Ole Miss series, Burns walked and then advanced to third on a stolen base and a throwing error on the catcher as his throw to second went to center field. On the next pitch, Bisson hit a ball sharply up the middle that was gathered in by the second baseman who threw to first to get out Bisson, allowing Burns to score. The inning ended when junior Gunner Glad was robbed of a single when the center fielder made a diving catch on a laser line drive to center field.
Louisville tied the game in the fifth inning, getting an error and a wild pitch. The inning started with McClendon making an error at third base on a hard hit ball that went under his glove, allowing Wright to move to second. Tilford then struck out Alec Lowrey, but threw a wild pitch to Jeff Arnold allowing Wright to move to third. Later in the at bat, Arnold singled through the left side of the infield scoring Wright and tying the game at one. Marcus Nidiffer helped Kentucky get out of the inning catching Arnold trying to steal second for the second out of the inning. After a single to right center field by John Dao, Drew Haynes singled to left center field putting runners on the corners with Adam Duvall coming to the plate. The Louisville second baseman struck out swinging to end the inning.
Kentucky answered the Cardinals rally in the bottom of the fifth when McClendon started the inning on a single to short. Nidiffer then hit a hard-hit ball to third that was gathered in by Dominguez who threw to second to try to get the lead runner, but the second baseman dropped the ball, making everyone safe. Bryan Rose then stepped to the plate for the second time in the game with two runners on, getting the job done by laying down a bunt to put both runners in scoring position for Wright. The Kentucky left fielder hit a dribbler to the left side, that Wright thought hit off his foot. The second baseman for Louisville grabbed the ball and threw out McClendon trying to score for the second out of the inning. Burns then came to the plate with runners at the corners and two outs, hitting a single through the left side scoring Nidiffer and giving Kentucky its one-run lead back. The inning ended when Bisson grounded back to the pitcher.
The Cardinals quickly tied the game again with a laser home run down the right field line by Clark, the Ole Miss transfer. It was the first baseman’s seventh home run of the season. Tilford settled down, getting Dominguez to strikeout for the second straight at bat. Tilford then was removed from the game for relief pitcher Logan Darnell. Darnell struck out the first batter on the first three pitches he threw. The inning ended when Darnell got Wright to strike out.
An error got Kentucky in trouble again in the seventh inning. After a leadoff bloop single to right field by Lowery, advancing to second on a passed ball, Lowery reached on an error by Burns putting runners at the corners with no outs. Dao then pop up to right field for the first out of the inning brining up the top of the Cardinals order in Haynes. After showing bunt the first two pitches of the at bat, Haynes swung on the third pitch sending a single through the left side of the infield and giving Louisville its first lead of the game. The rally continued as Darnell walked Duvall, loading the bases for Clark who had already hit a home run in the game. Clark hit a dribbler back to the mound, but the second error of the inning by Kentucky would plate two runs when Darnell threw the ball away trying to get the out at first. Darnell left the game with Dominguez coming to the plate, as Kentucky turned turn to freshman Braden Kapteyn. The first pitch of the game from the Kentucky pitcher was off the back of Dominguez, loading the bases for Wunderlich. Wunderlich roped a single to right field, scoring two more runs and giving the Cards a five-run lead. UL plated the sixth run of the inning on a single by Wright to center field. The inning ended when Kapteyn struck out Arnold.
The Cards added three more runs in the eighth inning when Dominguez sent his bomb over the left field wall for the final margin.